Clinton, Obama Make Quick Trip Back to Senate Floor
By Shailagh Murray
A pair of late afternoon Senate votes brought Obama and Clinton together in rare proximity and made for some drama on the Senate floor.
Obama glided from desk to desk and was greeted by his colleagues like a returning prizefighter. Standing at the back of the chamber, he joked with Sens. Jim Webb (Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), both uncommitted in the Democratic nomination battle. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota joined the group, and Conrad, who endorsed Obama weeks ago, took the roll: "Obama, Obama, Obama," Conrad said, pointing to himself, McCaskill and the Illinois senator himself. "We're for Obama," he said, looking at Tester and Webb. "What about you?"
Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont stopped by to shake Obama's hand, as did Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Both are still on the fence. Obama chatted with Sens. Ken Salazar of Colorado and Tom Carper of Delaware, another pair of undecided Democrats, who represent Feb. 5 states (as does Lautenberg). Even Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, stopped by to pay his respects. McCaskill will campaign tomorrow in Missouri with Obama, and before walking away she told him, "Get some sleep."
For most of this lovefest, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton remained out of view, having stepped into the cloakroom during the first vote. There she ran into Kennedy, and the two exchanged greetings, according to people familiar with the conversation. Later, she took a seat next to Sen. Chuck Schumer, her fellow New Yorker. But by then Obama had cast his second vote and left the chamber.
On his way to the floor, Kennedy shrugged off the influence that his rousing endorsement of Obama earlier in the day might have on his colleagues. "These are all professional politicians. They know their political interests much better than I do," Kennedy said.
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